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Why Are There Farrowing Crates?

CrateThe majority of sows are housed in farrowing crates from approximately five days before they are due to give birth until their piglets are weaned at approximately 28 days of age.

Why was the Farrowing Crate Invented?

To reduce piglet mortality. The farrowing crate was first introduced in the 1960s and its main purpose was to lower the risk of piglets being crushed by the sow by controlling her movements, particularly when lying down.

What Are The Advantages of the Farrowing Crate?

In addition to reducing the risk of crushing, the farrowing crate has become the main form of maternity housing for pigs because it has the following advantages:

  • Economical: compared to most indoor alternatives the farrowing crate is relatively economical
  • Space Saving: a typical farrowing crate can fit into a floor footprint of only 3.6 square metres per sow and litter.
  • Efficient: the farrowing crate allows efficient working conditions as they are usually built on fully or partially slatted floors facilitating relatively high levels of hygiene and minimal mucking out.
  • Safe: as the sow is constrained to the dimensions of the crate (typically 2.2m x 0.50m) this affords relatively safe conditions for stockpeople, especially when having to handle piglets.

Farrowing crates are considered to be economical, efficient and safe with maximising piglet survival as a main aim. However they raise serious welfare concerns, particularly for the sow. To find out more information visit What Are The Welfare Issues With Crates.

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